To strengthen our understanding of Qatar’s rich history and culture, the American School of Doha (ASD) celebrated its sixth annual Qatar History Week. Qatar History Week is an educational field experience organised by Social Studies teachers Mr. Hoiseth, Mr. Simmons and Ms. Collins with a specific focus on understanding the dynamic changes within Qatar. ASD’s Director, Dr Hawkins says that Qatar history week is, “Important for ASD to celebrate and learn more about its host-country culture. Qatar's long and rich tradition can sometimes be unknown to our students who come to Qatar for maybe only two or three or four years and allows an inside-look at the history and culture of this great land and its people.”
On the first day, students visited the FANAR Qatar Islamic Cultural Center and the Grand Mosque of Qatar. At the FANAR, Adam Abu Zuhri talked to the students about the cultural rituals behind the majlis. Students watched a film about the Golden Age in the Middle East, as this was a time of significant learning and innovation. One example was Ibn Al Haytham, a famous mathematician, philosopher and astronomer who revealed the theory behind how modern day camera’s now work. Students also learned about the Bedouins and the Coastal people of Qatar and how they settled into one community, and survived in this hot, humid region.
In addition to that, students also had the privilege to visit The Grand Mosque, also named, Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab Mosque, after it’s founder. It is the largest mosque in Qatar and is built over around 19,550 square meters on three levels with an area of about 175,000 square meters, fitting more than 30,000 worshippers for prayers at a time. The Grand Mosque of Qatar features a mix of both traditional Arabic and modern architecture. When visiting this religious site, students listened to Dominic Foley, one of the Islamic scholars from FANAR, explain about the five pillars of Islam.
The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum was founded in 1998 by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, at Al Samriya Farm. Sheikh Faisal is one of the Middle East's most prominent business leaders and has dedicated this museum to preserving Qatar’s history and culture. Sheikh Faisal has over 15,000 objects of global importance in this museum. Another one of the highlights of this experience, was the visit from Maryam Al Thani and Professor Robert Carter from the University College of London (UCL) in Qatar . The professors showed the students many photographs of the early landscape, geography and archeological digs in Qatar. Students then had the opportunity to design and build model Qatari themed houses to demonstrate what they had learnt.
Another highlight of this trip was the traditional Qatari feast that the Arab Mothers Association at ASD had prepared for the students. Students were very lucky to be able to taste the traditional food of Qatar, including machboos and liqimat. These experiences and activities were meant to enhance students mindsets, as Hoiseth says, “The purpose of Qatar History Week is to teach our students about the history of Qatar. To be able to understand what it looked like here 50+ years ago and to understand the rich heritage in this region.”
By Nabiha Hameed
American School of Doha